The state’s economy was definitely growing in January 2011. California labor markets improved. Theunemployment rate fell to 12.4 percent, and nonfarm employment increased for the fourth consecutive month.Commercial construction improved. However, weak real estate markets and disappointing home building aredampening the pace of recovery.
Californiagained 12,500 nonfarm jobs in January—thefourth in a string of monthly job gains that averaged30,800. This trend may not persist as January jobestimates have historically been volatile.
Five major industry sectors added jobs in January.Trade, transportation, and utilities added 19,200 jobs;construction, 17,800; government, 3,000; manufacturing,1,000; and mining and logging, 800.
Six sectors lost jobs. Information lost 9,600 jobs;professional and business services, 6,900; other services, 5,400; financial activities, 5,100; leisure andhospitality, 1,700; and educational and healthservices, 600.
California gained 102,100 jobs from January 2010 toJanuary 2011 (0.7 percent)—the strongest year-over-year job growth since July 2007.
Employment rose 60,400 in professional and business services; 47,600 in educational and health services; 29,800 in trade,transportation, and utilities; 23,100 in leisure and hospitality; 8,400 in information; 4,700 in manufacturing; and 1,100 in miningand logging.
Over the year, employment fell 49,700 in government; 10,400 in construction; 7,200 in other services; and 5,700 infinancial activities.
The state’s unemployment rate fell to 12.4 percent in January. The number of people unemployed in California was2,247,600–down 24,900 over the month, but up 7,100 compared with January of last year. The national unemployment ratefell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January.
Home building slowed in January following an end-of-the-year surge in December 2010 to beat the imposition of newbuilding codes that took effect at the beginning of 2010. Residential permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rateof 54,215 units, down almost 17 percent from December. Single-family permits fell 35.4 percent, while multi-family permittingwas up 10.1 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, nonresidential construction permitting rose 13.6 percent in January based on strong resurgencein the store, industrial, and other categories.
Sales of existing, single-family detached homes improved for the third consecutive month in January. Sales totaled546,420 units at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate and were up 2.5 percent from a year earlier.
Home prices softened considerably in January. The median price of existing, single-family homes sold in January was$278,900, down 2 percent from January 2010.
The unsold inventory index rose to 6.7 months in January. The median number of days needed to sell a home rose to61.8 days—nearly double the time needed a year earlier when federal and state home buyer incentives were in effect.(Source: California Association of Realtors